Saturday, May 3, 2008

BOOK: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

chunkster challenge 483 p; what's in a name? plant in title category; decades challenge 1940s

This is a book I've been meaning to read for quite a while, so it ended up being on several challenge lists, most notably the chunkster challenge. At 483 pages, it took a while to read. Francie Nolan grows up from 10 til 17 years old, during the early part of the 20th century. Smith provides a view of life, based on her life, of poor working class Americans living in Brooklyn. It was a time of vast changes, but with so little historically happening, it's a time I haven't read much about. It's not prohibition, it's not the first World War, it's not nation building. I enjoyed it, but I think if I had read it as a much younger person, it might have had more impact on me. There were parts that touched me a lot, but in other places I found it a bit preachy. The funniest part was when Francie's brother tried to buy sauerkraut once the Americans had joined the war, and he forgot to order it as Liberty Cabbage. Freedom Fries anyone?

It was an epic novel, following one family's journey, during a much simpler time of life. A glimpse of life when the difference between rich and poor was very noticeable, when a family's pride was all they had as they struggled to better themselves. A real American dream novel.


  1. I read this one a couple years ago and really enjoyed it. It was one that I had always wanted to read. Glad you enjoyed it, too!

  2. I have heard this book mentioned so often, but I know nothing about it. Thanks for the review! Eck--freedom fries is something I would gladly forget.

  3. joy - I'm glad I've read it now

    trish - I thought it was so funny because it was written in 1946, so it must be a natural tendency to change the name of food during conflicts

  4. I read this last year and liked it too - it's what my bf calls a 'nice' book. :-)

  5. I have finally found someone who reviewed a book that I did. Here is the link if you are still interested in doing the weekly geek thing

    I'm going to link to you if you don't mind. Let me know and I'll take you off if you do!


  6. I'm right about 3/4 of the way through this book right now and enjoying it. I'm a little surprised at what light reading it really is for a chunkster. Like you said, some touching moments but all in all it's pretty airy.

  7. I really love this book. I don't remember the part about the sauerkraut, though! I remember where they got a christmas tree by standing up against the tree man throwing it at them.


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